Open Work Environments Jump-Start Communication and More

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Hannah Ziegeler
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In Battle Creek, 3,000 people report to work daily at DENSO Corporation’s manufacturing hub.


DENSO; BATTLE CREEK, MI | The site is where DENSO, the world’s second largest mobility supplier, produces all of its thermal systems in North America. To manufacture its advanced automotive cooling and heating systems while staying on the forefront of the fields of electrification and automated driving, the company remains steadfastly committed to a culture of continuous improvement in its highly-automated processes as well as the ability of its people to communicate directly at a pace of well over 60 miles per hour.

“We monitor how quickly and with the best quality and safety we can make an HVAC [heating ventilation and air conditioning] or an ECM [engine control module] system. Those same principles also apply to an office worker in our manufacturing environment,” says Natalie Ebig Scott, communications section leader. Off its plant floors, DENSO’s office space is wide open for engineering, human resources, purchasing, finance, accounting, and payroll departments to mix freely. “The number of people you can touch in a day is almost unthinkable,” continues Scott.

The environment and accessibility made quite an impression on Lance Lys, a 2018 summer intern who had access to DENSO’s CEO on day one. “The office is wide open. Everyone has their own desk, but the CEO, CFO, directors, managers, and [everyone else] all sit together. There is no special area and the [company’s leadership] sit intertwined with everyone, making it easier to feel comfortable and do analysis.”

What was expected to fill his entire summer was due in less than one month. With no doors or walls, Lys was easily able to approach and then work with multiple teams to successfully assemble his dynamic project.

One glance around DENSO’s space confirms the company’s focus on how people communicate. “We are able to share what we know and be flexible. The open office environment lends to that. If someone has a question, I know at least where to direct them to better service our customers—whether that’s an associate or an automaker or a business partner. That’s where teamwork comes from,” says Scott.

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